COVID-19: Understanding What DG Hisham Means By “R-Naught”

covid-19: understanding what dg hisham means by “r-naught”

We’re sure by now you’ve noticed how more often than not, Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah talks about something during his daily press briefings called the “R-naught”, and how important it is for us to bring that value down.

Well, if you’ve just been tuning that part out, allow us to tell you what that means!

R0, pronounced “R naught,” is a mathematical term that indicates how contagious an infectious disease is, according to Healthline.

It basically tells you the average number of people who will contract a contagious disease from one person with that disease.

For example, if a disease has an R0 of 10, a person who has the disease will transmit it to an average of 10 other people. 

That replication will continue if no one has been vaccinated against the disease or is already immune to it in their community.

covid-19: understanding what dg hisham means by “r-naught”

Photo showing R0=2 via Michigan Health Lab

When it comes to COVID-19, the R0 is a median of 5.7, according to a study published online in Emerging Infectious Diseases, and based on data from the original outbreak in Wuhan, China.

The 5.7 means that one person with COVID-19 can potentially transmit the coronavirus to five to six people, if no action was being taken to stop it from spreading.

With an R0 of 5.7, at least 82 percent of the population needs to be immune to COVID-19 to stop its transmission through vaccination and herd immunity (but that’s another story).

In Malaysia, the R0 of COVID-19 infections is now at 0.9, as of Wednesday (February 10th).

If an R0 value is less than 1, each existing infection causes less than one new infection - In this case, the disease will decline and eventually die out.

Dr Noor Hisham took to Twitter to share the breakdown of our current numbers by state:

He also pointed out earlier this week that the reintroduction of Movement Control Order (MCO) has been so far successful in reducing the daily new COVID-19 cases.

This is why it is crucial that we continue to follow SOPs and embrace the new norm until at least the majority of the country is vaccinated.

So while restrictions under the MCO are being lifted bit by bit, try to stay home as much you can, because our fight against COVID-19 is far from over.

That’s just the reality for us. Stay safe, everyone!


by Kyle Roshen Jacob